Arts Council briefing meeting. They are telling us about the new scenario.
They are using diplomatic language, it’s light touch corporate speak, they’re trying not to slag off the Government but the message is clear, they feel badly done over. They were lobbying for a very maximum cut of 25% and got 30%. They wanted it ‘back-loaded’ at the end of the four year cycle but it instead it was ‘front-loaded’. They’d just come off a massive restructuring to save admin costs and now that lower figure itself has to be massacred. Who knows how ACE will be able to continue doing its job? A conspiracy theorist could suggest they are being set up to fail and lined up to be axed next time around.
The Government has instructed that Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) should only be cut by 15% but like Front Line Services not being cut in Health or Education it’s a nonsense of spin. Creative Partnerships is being cut 100% to protect us, but C.P. work has been earning us significant income for a number of years now, this cut will hurt not just companies like ours but many, many individual artists. The Private sector is expected to rescue up with its sponsorship and philanthropic giving but Arts & Business, a body tasked with encouraging this, is to be cut by 50%. Maybe voluntary giving to the arts could follow the same model as that proposed by the Government voluntary work by the unemployed people (it becomes compulsory).
The 30% saving has to come from somewhere so Arts Mark, Arts Award and Cultural Olympiad activities are in major peril. In this meeting it’s clear more than 100 of the current RFOs will be cut by 100% in order that the current portfolio of companies don’t all limp on seriously under-resourced.
Is there any up-side? Well, miss-reporting suggested that “for the first time arts organisations are having to justify their funding” this is ridiculous, of course organisations have had to justify what they do. Now there will no longer be RFOs, every current RFO is being invited to apply for National Portfolio Funding. One advance is that this application process is open to any organisation that qualifies, rather than having to be invited to apply as before. There will certainly be opportunities for some companies to move up from project funding, politics dictates there must be good news to distract from bad.
Up for a bit of politics, a bit of political theatre even? Then there’s good news Birmingham has Captial, the very thing, on the way 22nd – 27th November.